Match preview: Almería vs. Atlético

Simeone set to complete touchline ban in vital clash

Arda takes on Aleix Vidal

After failing to see off Celta Vigo at home on Saturday, Atlético Madrid are in danger of losing ground early on in the defence of their La Liga title, and need a convincing three points to really kick the new campaign into gear.

On Wednesday night, they travel to Almería in what will be the last of Diego Simeone’s four match touchline ban, looking to win for the first time since 1995 in the Juegos Mediterráneos.

Kick-off in Andalusia is set for 20:00 CET.

Two disappointing results in the last week has spread some concern amongst Atlético fans, with questions already being asked of the team and certain players.

Having had such a settled group last year, we are still waiting for the new side to really hit their stride and gel together as a unit, something that is evident given the uncharacteristic defensive errors we’ve seen in recent matches.

The rojiblancos sit sixth in La Liga following tonight’s results, four points adrift of leaders Barcelona and also behind Sevilla and Valencia, who, according to Simeone, are our main rivals this year.

19 players have been called for the trip, but despite re-joining full training yesterday, Mario Mandžukić has not been deemed fit enough to make a return.

The Croatian forward underwent surgery on a nose fracture last Thursday, but hasn’t travelled, meaning Raúl Jiménez will most likely get another chance up front.

Jesús Gámez has also not been called-up, he will have to wait for his debut in red and white as once again Cholo has decided to leave the former Málaga captain back home in Madrid.

Back in contention for the first time since the International break is Cristian Rodríguez, who picked up an injury with Uruguay earlier in the month but has trained fully this week and could take a place on the bench.

In his press conference, Simeone played down some of the fears fans have had as of late, insisting that the fact so much is being demanded of the team from outside of the camp is a positive thing.

“Everything good we did last year was valued, respected, and lived from the joy that we gave the people with what we achieved,” he said. “This is a new season, the expectations are high and we will be observed as a consequence of those achievements.”

“Our main focus is the important match we have to play tomorrow, we face a well worked rival that has improved since last season. A team who feels much more comfortable in the First Division and have dangerous players on the wings.”

The Argentine head coach also spoke about our lack of goals from open play, putting it down to an improvement needed by the team as a collective, and also gave a vote of confidence to the much-maligned Raúl Jiménez.

“I think Raúl is doing fine,” he told press. “He always trains to improve, and will surely give us very important things this season. The change of coming to play to Europe is not an easy one to make, but we’re confident in the player and I’m convinced he will repay our faith.”

In Almería, we come up against one of the four teams to have beaten us on our way to winning the title last year. Back in February, Francisco Rodríguez’s team threatened to derail our dream at a crucial point in the season, deservedly winning 2-0 with a couple of late goals.

They have enjoyed a fairly solid start and currently sit in 10th, having gotten off the mark on Sunday with an impressive 2-1 win away at Real Sociedad.

Currently in their ranks is Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey – on loan from Atleti – an ever present so far in what is his debut La Liga season. Simeone is said to be an admirer of the 21 year-old, and identified him as one of the hosts key players in his press conference.

However, due to a clause in his contract he will not be able to line-up against his parent club. Sebastián Dubarbier also misses out having seen red in the Anoeta, and veteran midfielder Miguel Corona is nursing an injury.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moya, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Siqueira, Ansaldi, Juanfran, Miranda, Giménez
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Saúl, Cerci
Forwards: Raúl Jiménez, Griezmann

  • Back to Estadio Mediterraneo where Atleti NEVER won,
    This time there is no Texiera, Aranzubia or “Captain Barbosa”,
    but Soriano is still there though

    We have unfinished business there

  • Chewie

    About Jimenez – we should remember he came from the Mexican championship, and however talented, he still need to get used to the top league game.

    From the team I expect either a beautiful game and a win, or just a win, even if ugly. This match, as Gabi said, is akin to a final. We need to win to stay in the race. But what we need more is concentration. And goals. Almeria is not an easy opponent but we have no excuses to not win. No more, guys, let’s do it. 1-0 will do.

  • we have no excuse indeed
    we just had a back-to-back wins at the Bernabeu in La Liga, and we still can not get any win at the Mediterraneo !! .. this is just ridiculous

    about Raul Jimenez, our number 11, I will say just 11 words :
    when Costa was at his age, he was loaned to Rayo .

  • Amr Misir Mukadaffi

    Guys, what are your expectations this season for Atletico Madrid ? I mean Real Madrid, and Barca all spend big money on new players, we also but not that much as them.. So i would say a 3th place behind barca and real would be a great goal ?

  • Chewie

    It would be a realistic goal. My expectations is to finish 3rd in the league, go through to at least 1/2 in Copa del Rey and get as much a money as possible from the UCL, maybe failing at 1/4 or 1/2 depending on the opponent. Who knows, maybe we’ll get something like Zenit – Porto – Arsenal and get to the finals again.

  • Kris

    Impressed by Cerci and Saul. Saul should be starting games by now. He plays very well.

    Our finishing seems to be terrible. When are we going to fix this??

  • Chewie

    By the way, it was our 100th win in 156 games under Simeone. Aupa!

  • Ringo ST Gambo

    Depends on how fast the group chemistry and shape grow. So far there are a few moments of shine, but more moments of fog. The talent is definitely there, so I think the end result will be a great team.
    Perhaps this time our offensive play will be in the second half of the season, instead of the first half, like the past two seasons were.

    So far all but one goal are from set pieces. Positive is the high quality of those situations, negative is the lack of goals from field play, which usually takes up a bigger part of the game…

    But, with Griezmann, Jimenez, Cerci, Mandzukic, Garcia and Miranda, we have players capable of scoring many goals, eventually, I hope.

    LSS: It’s hard to predict right now, a mold team within a month would make us title contendors, if it takes more time, 3rd place seems plausible, a lot of more time would probably mean a disappointing year, at least to the eyes.

  • atleti10

    Saul must start the next game, he gives us exactly what we need in the middle… MOVEMENT. Delighted with the win, good second half from the team.

  • and he was the coach who needed less games to achieve that, 156 like you said
    in second and third places come two very big legends is football coaching :
    2- Ricardo Zamora who needed 193 games
    3- Luis Aragones who needed 206 games

    This is how great is El Cholo

  • Parsa

    Saul was amazing ! He can be a great partner for gabi in the middle. I think he has the quality to even start the games.

    It’s good that we’re creating chances. The question is Who should be the main man in our attacking line ? Griezmann is very different to costa and maybe he’ll be much more effective if we use him on the left wing, but then we have to change our attacking shape entirely. I don’t think El Cholo wants to do that. It looks a bit complicated right now but I personally think that our key to success is how much we can take the best out of griezmann.

  • Brad

    I was actually thinking about that earlier. Hey may be the next Diego Costa, but he’s going to take some time to get used to la Liga

  • Brad

    Mandzukic once his face heals

  • even if Simeone wanted Grizi to be a target man, he just can’t be, he is too small, while a number 9 must be tall and strong
    like Brad said, Mandzu is that man, and if he isn’t there, then it’s Jimenez
    I have a strong faith and feelings that the Mexican will turn into a great goalscorer,
    he just needs some time, and he also needs some support from the fans, those whistles must stop

  • Neptune´s Aya

    But isn’t it obvious that Hector from Madrileño, who has scored three goals having played in total 4 games for Atletico if you count the minutes, is the man to cover for Mandzukic?.

  • Neptune´s Aya

    Aúpa Atleti!!!

  • Neptune´s Aya

    Really sorry but he’s not a goal scorer. 37 goals in more than 100 games for America are going to make him struggle. The supporters of that team made the club sit him on the bench because of that.
    Héctor is the future of the Spanish National team. Whatever team he´ll play…On his debut with Madrileno he scored three goals coming as a substitute in seven minutes. And two of those when the team was one man down!!!.
    Really sorry but that’s not a coincidence. Whoever is the player doing that is special. Simeone has given him 4 games in total if you add up all the minutes and he’s already scored three goals. At the Carranza trophy final against Sampdoria he did an inmense run looping the ball over his chest, turnning and then striking a shot against the bar, and this allowed Saul to get the ball and score a great goal also. He’s ready to play for Atletico and should be Mandzukic’s alternative and play in those games that the Croatian can’t play. I’d put them even alongside eachother as Hector has an exquisite control of the ball running. He’s going to be a huge star and the sooner Atletico plays him the best for them. Aupa Atleti!!!

  • Neptune´s Aya

    Heeeeeccccctttttooooooooorrrrrrr!!!. Aúpa Atleti!!!

  • Parsa

    I have to explain more by the phrase ” Target Man ” in our attacking line. It is very obvious that Manzu is a classic target man/clinical finisher. On paper these kinda players are made for the 18 Yard box. Manzu is physically strong and have the ability to hold the ball while his back is on oppositions goal. But we’re a counter attacking team and we need more than that from our leading player. Manzu can not run with the ball with high velocity for 30-40 metres. Neither can jimenez. That’s why we are basically struggling right now. We always prefer to defend rather than having the ball, and when we recover it, There is no diego costa anymore on the front to lift the attack. We need a replacement for costa in our counter attacks and right now we dont have it. What I’ve learnt from our first 8 games is this: Griezmann is more effective when we have the ball, But he struggles in the counter attacks becuz of his physical weakness and his lack of energy after a high intensity press. That’s why I mean it looks a bit complicated for me … And that’s why simeone is always saying that we’re trying to find the solutions for the different charactristics that we have this season.

  • OK, you want to argue by numbers, those are the numbers of Diego Costa :
    before his ONLY great season with us last year, he played 4 other seasons in Primera, in 109 games he scored 34 goals
    I think 36 goals in Mexican Liga (not 37) in exactly 100 games (not more) is better

    Again and again : you just can’t wait on Costa for 5 years and loan him to 4 different clubs and judge Jimenez from only 6 games (267 minutes)
    What I really believe is that if anybody who doesn’t like Jimenez and doesn’t want to give him a chance looked inside himself he will find that the really reason to feel that way is because the kid was a madridista .. that what I think

    Another point I just can not let it go away :
    The fans did NOT put anybody on the bench
    this is a big insult for Simeone .. he is not of that kind of coaches who listen to the fans whistles and choose his line-up according to them
    was Gabi whistled at too and that was the reason he sat on the bench next to Jimenez ??!!!

    PLEASE my friends : stop being emotional and start being reasonable

  • Neptune’s Aya

    You are so emotional that you can´t read properly, i can´t give you gramatical lessons man…America´s supporters!!!!. Were the ones that sat down the player on the bench!!!. “37 goals in 100 games for America are going to make him struggle. The supporters of that team made the club sit him on the bench…” .You make me laugh. Aúpa Atleti!!!

  • Neptune’s Aya

    I’m not arguing with you!!!. I’m telling you: Héctor is better than Costa. Aúpa Atleti!!!.

  • Neptune’s Aya

    With all due respect to every team involved, here are two or three leagues for a nice loan this January.
    “PLEASE my friends:” choose.
    Seriously, you make me laugh!!!. Thank you!!!.
    Aúpa Atleti!!!.

  • Neptune´s Aya

    The system´s changed to when El Tigre was playing which suits Mandzukic more. Anyway put Héctor there and Madzinger to run and shoot. Problem solved. Aúpa Atleti!!!.

  • Nerptune´s Aya

    And how dare you telling me what i feel inside about a player?. You don’t wear a Charles Chaplin moustache, do you?. You are a bit scary…”Colchonero amongst other things”…No thanks, don’t want to know…Aúpa Atleti!!!

  • Nerptune´s Aya

    Costa did never start as a pure 9. Not even for Atletico. That´s why they got Villa. By the way, you were praising him somewhere else and now saying that he took too many seasons to start scoring goals. La gallina turuleeeetaaaaa….Bring Héctor up!!!. He´s the future of the national team!!!. Aúpa Atleti!!!